Energy

Nuclear power is sometimes described as being free of greenhouse gas emissions, and that’s true of the nuclear fission reactions themselves. But here is a list of all the stages of the nuclear power cycle at which greenhouse gases are emitted: uranium mining, uranium milling, conversion of uranium ore to uranium hexafluoride, uranium enrichment, fuel fabrication, reactor construction, reactor decommissioning, fuel reprocessing, nuclear waste disposal, mine site rehabilitation, and transport throughout all stages.

Like with emissions-free, white-collar astronomy jobs, it seems strange that anyone would protest emissions-free alternative energy, but in the United States it faces an uphill battle. On one side environmental groups lobby for it, while on the other, different environmentalists wait to file lawsuits and if they aren't paid off quickly, it could take years to resolve in court.

Existing popular alternative energy schemes have an ironic flaw - they make fossil fuels more profitable because they are not predictably consistent, which means expensive contracts for "instant on" traditional providers to prevent blackouts.

The big obstacle in implementing wind energy on a massive scale is the unpredictability of its driving force. Wind comes and goes, frequently shifting speed and direction, and mountainous terrain makes it even more fickle. And yet, customers depending on wind power as their primary source of electricity demand a consistent flow -- not one that dies with the wind. Thus, the success of wind energy depends, in part, on the ability to predict changes in wind flow and adjust the grid accordingly. 


Global incomes continue to rise, more people are living more comfortably, globalization has been a huge win for many developing nations and that means more people than ever can afford air conditioning.

While some policy makers live in an idealized developed world where more wind and solar power at ever higher costs will solve the emissions problem, that lacks fairness for people who are only now able to afford to live well. More people are going to need electricity and that means we need to embrace true green energy and not fudge numbers to where political winners look like viable solutions for the future. Without viable clean energy the stress on energy prices and infrastructure will mean poorer people stay shackled to the past.


Renewable electricity has nearly trebled under this government.

said Ed Davey, Liberal Democrat energy and climate change minister, during an environment debate held by the Daily Politics show.

Amid the climate of mistrust about claims made by politicians that tends to accompany election campaigns, it is reassuring to report that the evidence supports the minister’s statement.

James Hansen, a former head of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies who was one of the first scientists to raise concerns about global climate change, spoke at MIT Tuesday in the biennial David J. Rose Lecture, sponsored by the Department of Nuclear Science and Engineering (NSE).

 Hansen came to prominence in the late 1980s, when he first testified before Congress about the perils of accumulating carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
A breakthrough in artificial photosynthesis has been achieved with the development of  a hybrid system of semiconducting nanowires and bacteria that can capture carbon dioxide emissions before they are vented into the atmosphere and then, powered by solar energy, convert that carbon dioxide into valuable chemical products, including biodegradable plastics, pharmaceutical drugs and liquid fuels. 

The system mimics the natural photosynthetic process by which plants use the energy in sunlight to synthesize carbohydrates from carbon dioxide and water but this artificial photosynthetic system synthesizes the combination of carbon dioxide and water into acetate, the most common building block today for biosynthesis.

The cost of batteries is one of the major hurdles standing in the way of widespread use of electric cars and household solar batteries. By storing surplus energy, batteries allow households to reduce power bought from the electricity grid. Unfortunately, batteries have so far been prohibitively expensive.

But research published recently in Nature Climate Change Letters shows battery pack costs may in some cases be as low as US$300 per kilowatt-hour today, and could reach US$200 by 2020. This cost development is notably cheaper and faster decreasing than I and many others expected.

Researchers have made a significant breakthrough in the development of synthetic pathways that will enable renewable biosynthesis of the gas propane. 

Natural metabolic pathways for the renewable biosynthesis of propane do not exist but scientists at the Manchester Institute of Biotechnology (MIB), Imperial College and University of Turku have developed an alternative microbial biosynthetic pathway to produce renewable propane.
In 2005, environmentalists got what they and former Vice-President Al Gore had lobbied for since the late 1980s; federal subsidies to commercialize biofuels. Mr. Gore later admitted that he was just endorsing biofuels to get corn belt votes for his presidential run and few academic scientists had publicly disagreed because, well, they voted for him.

The result of the last corporate subsidy effort: Corn and soy growers have been happy, to be sure, but poor people got rising food costs and biofuels remain even more of a net penalty to the environment than regular gasoline.